Markets are higher by nearly one percent as hints of compromise are leaking out of Washington. This is squeezing all the bears who piled on the shorts last week. Easy come easy go.
Another tough day to be a bear. A lot of traders are expecting this market to crack wide-open, but it just isn’t happening. On November 28th we had a dramatic selloff down to the 200dma, but it reversed and closed higher by the end of the day. Selling last Thursday and Friday dropped us to the 50dma, but we rebounded decisively off of that level this morning. People want to say this is a news driven market and that is making it impossible to trade, but that is just an excuse for their losing money. Markets are indifferent to the news and only respond to traders buying and selling. If you spend more time watching what other traders are doing and thinking, the market starts behaving a lot more rationally and predictably.
The market was pessimistic after last week’s selloff, but that pessimism is the fuel that powers rallies. And we are seeing that fuel in action today. As I shared in recent posts, this is a tough market to short and any short profits should be taken early and often because this market is highly prone to bouncing. You can make money going against the trend, but you have to be nimble and quick.
The interesting thing about sentiment is I hear a lot of bears claiming the market is far too optimistic and overrun with bulls, but I don’t see any of this wild optimism firsthand. What I see with my own eyes are uncertain bulls and confident, almost cocky bears. I suspect this perception by bears that the market is overrun with bulls doesn’t come from conversations with other traders, but from direct observations of the market’s price action. The market is going up a lot so that automatically equals to too many bulls. But as we’ve discussed many times on this blog, there are other reasons why markets rally that have nothing to do with excessive bullishness. And as many bears have found out, shorting a market just because it went up too much is a hazardous pastime.
Today’s strong gains show the rally isn’t dead yet, but this isn’t an all clear signal to rush in and buy stocks with reckless abandon. The market will probably chop around a little to equally humiliate bears and bulls alike before it resumes the uptrend. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this bounce fizzle over the next couple days as we retest 1400. That doesn’t have to happen, but if you own stocks, mentally prepare yourself for this renewed weakness and don’t let it shake your resolve. For bears, this is yet another reminder to take profits early and often. Bears are trading against the trend and that is one of the most difficult trades to execute successfully.
AAPL dipped to $501 in early trade but then jumped on board the broad market rally. I’d still like to see the stock trade and even close under the psychologically significant $500 level. This will give the tree one last good hard shake and clear the way for a rebound higher. Remember the best way to make money in the markets is to buy weakness and sell strength. But unfortunately the human brain is wired to buy strength and sell weakness. And no doubt we will see a lot of regret from weak sellers who see this name rebound without them. The best trading advice I can give someone is sell when you don’t want to sell and buy when you don’t want to buy. Like everything else in the markets this doesn’t work all the time, but it sure works better than following the crowd.
Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.